Party-going employees are being warned the office Christmas bash is "not a night out with your mates".

But Northland businesses trying to cut costs are downsizing the traditional booze-fuelled staff party.

Hospitality New Zealand Northland branch president Phil Sentch said many local businesses were opting for a Christmas lunch rather than an all-out party.

Some bosses were even hosting end-of-year barbecues in their own homes in a bid to cut costs, he said.

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However, getting too many drinks on board at the staff bash wasn't yet a thing of the past.

"That's going to happen at office parties. And at someone's home when you're with your workmates, I guess it becomes a little more forgiving.

"For us, we're policing things exceptionally strongly these days."

Career specialist and author Tom O'Neil said employees needed to remember that the office Christmas party was "not a night out with your mates".

"A friend of mine was at a work function where a guy was stripped of all his clothes, put on a parking bench, tags attached to various parts, black vivid tattoos all over. Then his wife arrived to pick him up."

The work bash was a chance to market yourself and have fun, not destroy your personal brand, he said.

"Everything you do with your colleagues there will impact your ability to deliver the goods during the other 364 days of the year."

Keeping a few things in mind could help you to avoid disaster, he said.

"Don't talk to your manager after 10pm ... you will end up getting a few beers in and telling them how they can improve their management style."

Eating before you hit the bar, alternating your drinks with water and buddying up with someone who could let you know if you've crossed the line could also protect your dignity.